Winter Sports

Winter fun may not appeal to everyone, but it’s nice to have the option if you like to frolic in the snow. For people with physical disabilities, winter sports are less accessible. One exception is sledge hockey which was created in Sweden in the 1960’s. It has gone through several iterations and did not debut as a full Paralympic sport until 1994. What’s interesting is there is a need for eligibility classification. One must be disabled enough to meet with the International Paralympic Committee’s classification standards.

Ice sledge hockey is basically hockey for people with lower limb impairment. It follows the same rules of regular hockey except for the equipment used. A player sits in an aluminium bucket called a sledge, it has a toboggan-like look. The sledge is fitted with two blades attached to its underside, this lets a play propel across the arena’s ice. Players use two playing sticks that offer a dual function. A player pushes themselves and shoots the puck with the sticks. As a sport, it certainly provides a lot of winter fun.

Sledge hockey

 

Sledge hockey player

To see sledge hockey in action check out this video

Winter Fun

Like it or not, living in Canada means there will be a few months of snow. For many adults, disabled or otherwise it is a time of hibernation. I for one do not like being cold. Children seem to approach the cold differently. To their way of thinking, recreation is a year-long activity. Snow is just a new way to play and enjoy winter fun times.

Tobogganing was a big part of my winter play as a child. Needless to say, because of my disability, it took me longer to climb up whatever hill we used. In fact, I fell frequently on the way up but landing in soft snow was a part of the fun.

Going down, well that is the best part of course. I held on to the curved wood at the top of the toboggan like my life depended on it, and at times – it did!

I liked it best when my brother and I used separate toboggans. You could enjoy more speed when there was less weight on the toboggan. It felt exciting to whiz down the hill bump after bump. Cold crisp good memories.

Accessible Toboggan Run

For everyday winter fun tobogganing is an excellent choice. The idea of an accessible toboggan run is not something I would have thought of, but I am glad someone else did. A lot of kids, young and old, who have mobility challenges will get a lot of joy from tobogganing.

Manitoba, a province that knows a lot about snow, partnered with the city of Winnipeg to create a fun family recreation space. It is the province’s first accessible toboggan run!

Toboggan run

The structure is made from Douglas Fir siding, galvanized framing, and a look-out area is made from a steel frame that has V-shaped cutouts. There are two slides at different heights, a four-season shelter, a viewing deck and a wheelchair accessible ramp.

At the opening ceremony, the city welcomed sledge hockey Paralympian, Billy Bridges to take the first accessible run with his young daughter.

Toboggan run

Designed by Public City Architecture, this $750K winter accessible structure also offers visitors to the park a treetop look-out and picnic area to enjoy during warmer weather.

Tobogganing, cold winter days and smiles go well together. Winnipeg has set an excellent example for other provinces to follow. It’s exciting to see more parks and recreation are increasing their inclusivity and thinking forward to future playgrounds.

Toboggan run

 

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